Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Multi Role Vehicle (Protected)


The Specialist and Logistic Project Team (SLV PT) is the MOD authority following the Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) requirement, which is, in itself, the name with which the cancelled Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) has been resurrected. 
OUVS was a long-running programme (it was launched in 2003) which looked at many different vehicles for finding a replacement for vehicles such as Land Rover and Pinzgauers, RB44s and others. In 2008 the UK and the US formed a joint work group for the UK to enter the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program of the US Army and USMC, but barely a few months later it was decided that the JLTV was not the right direction to go for the British Army, albeit exchange of informations continues. 

Among the vehicles considered under OUVS we find the General Dynamics's Eagle IV and DURO IIIP, general purpose variants of the Iveco "Lince" LMV that forms the base of the Panther CLV, the G wagon from Mercedes, the Sherpa from France's Renault and the Thales Australia Copperhead, which is the Single Cab Bushmaster Utility variant. The name Copperhead has since fallen out of use. 
In 2009 the Navistar MXT, which the UK acquired the same year as UOR for Afghanistan naming it Husky, was also shortlisted for OUVS.   

By then, OUVS envisaged two families of vehicles, OUVS Small and OUVS Large: the first had to deliver vehicles with a payload of 1 to 2 tons (then incresed to 2 to 3 tons), and the OUVS Large had to deal with loads from 3 to 5 or six tons. The MXT was selected for evaluation in both classes. 

Bushmaster Single Cab utility vehicle

In any case, in 2011 the NAO Major Projects Report let us know that the MOD had effectively cancelled OUVS. 

The requirement for Operational Utility Vehicle System was reviewed in 2007 by the Army, as lead user, when the need for vehicles with enhanced protection, capacity and mobility was identified. The Single  Statement of User Need stated that ‘Operational Utility Vehicle System would provide a robust, easily  supported system, comprising operational utility vehicles that are able to carry light cargo (up to six tonnes) or small groups of personnel, integrate as many special-to-role systems as possible and which can operate in diverse climatic and topographical conditions worldwide, in order to support and contribute to land (including land air) and littoral manoeuvre operations’. This capability would be a key supporting enabler for offensive combat operations providing the following roles; unit level logistic cargo vehicle, systems carrier, mobile command, liaison and personnel transport.

Mainly aimed at replacing Pinzgauers and Land Rovers in their many variants, OUVS had actually been suspended well before PR11, mainly because (despite trialing well-protected vehicles such as Bushmaster and Eagle IV) in its original form OUVs mandated pretty much no protection for the new vehicles.
OUVS indeed called for 8500 new vehicles pretty much as like-for-like replacements for Land Rover and Pinzgauers: soft skinned, cheap (97.000 pounds each desired price) vehicles with no mine/IED protection.
Already during 2010 it was realized that such an approach was unacceptable and clashed with the reality of modern operations, and protection requirements were added, even if this of course meant the cost increased fivefold and the number of vehicles to be procured dropped significantly. A 2-years deferral was also imposed.

Prior to PR11, OUVS was expected to be resurrected in 2012, for an entry in service not later than 2018. However, Planning Round 2011 actually removed OUVS from the programme altogether, "re-scoping" the requirement, with the outcome of the work done on OUVS up to that point forming the basis for the Multi Role Vehicle- Protected Programme. 
The NAO report said that it was planned for Multi Role Vehicle - Protected to commence Concept stage during Financial Year 2015/2016.
Luckily, the Pre-Concept trials and activities have actually already begun, and we can hope for an earlier, faster progress of this important program, which will have its own Initial Gate and Main Gate approvals in the coming years.

The SLV Team has been already conducting trials on several vehicles at Millbrook, with a study and comparison of candidate platforms planned for "the week after DVD 2012" which took plane on 20 and 21 June. If there have not been changes to the schedule, the comparative trials should have already happened, but unfortunately at the moment i've been unable to get a confirmation: there's not much publicity around this program yet, which is both a good and a bad thing. The trial was/is meant to determine the range of candidate vehicles, in the 5 to 15 tons range, that offered the desired protection and mobility levels and sufficient modularity to be suitable for the realization of the multiple variants the Army needs. Another important requirement is that the vehicle should have an Unit Price Cost of 250.000 pounds.
This activity is an early phase, a "pre-concept" study. Indeed, Multi Role Vehicle Protected does not expects to reach Main Gate before 2016, so we are at a starting point.

According to the MOD, the MRV(P) is not going to be employed for Rapid Reaction Forces, namely the Airborne Task Force and Commando amphibious brigade, which will need a vehicle which is lighter and more agile. However MRV(P) would support the rest of the formations, which means the thick of the Army. The vision is for one vehicle to fulfil all roles, using plug-and-play communications and flexible seating layouts, so to give birth to all variants needed, which include:

- Command and communications post vehicle,
- Command and liaison vehicle,
- General purpose vehicle – cargo,
- General purpose vehicle – pax,
- Light gun towing vehicle.

Other variants, such as the Future Protected Multi-Role Battlefied Ambulance, would be based on the same mechanics if possible.  
The presence of a Command and Liaison variant is significant: the Panther CLV covers (in theory) this role, so the Army might be intentioned to retire it early if MRV(P) progresses successfully.

Although there are not yet Key User Requirements (KURs) listed for the MRV(P), as the final list of requirements has still to be agreed and published, the MOD's list of current indicative wishes is the following:

- Base Vehicle, Passenger Carriage Variant: crew of 3 (Driver, Commander, Gunner) and 6 passengers
- Base Vehicle, Cargo Variant: crew of 3 and payload greater than 2500 kg, with good towing capacity and 20% growth margin
- Unladen mass inferior to 14.000 kg, less than 10.000 if C130 air-portability will be required (unlikely)
- Turning circle inferior to 17 meters
- Width < 2.5m Medium Mobility
- Power to weight ratio > 20 hp/t at the wheels Medium Mobility
-  Ground pressure < 450Kpa Medium mobility
-  Ground clearance > 240mm Medium Mobility
- Ballistic threshold protection (Stanag 4569) ? level 2 Objective level 3
- Blast threshold protection (Stanag 4569) ? level 2a/2b Objective level 3a/3b
- Growth Potential. The platform design must incorporate adaptable vehicle architecture to allow the following capabilities to be integrated into the platform:

— Open architecture communication information system,
— Generic vehicle architecture level 2,
— Fitted for electronic counter measures,
— Fitted for bowman,
— Fitting of protect weapon system.  


They are not trivial requirements, especially considering the desired unit price. What might be the competitors? 

The Navistar MXT might have some cards to play, depending on how the Army is satisfied by its performances. The fact that 327 are in service as of June 2012 (out of orders placed for at least 351: battle losses?) is a relevant factor, and the Army might well decide that sticking with something that's already around is budgetarily the most acceptable solution. The Army already has an Ambulance Husky, a Command Post and an Utility variant, and now Navistar has added a Light Recovery Vehicle variant which the British Army might soon order, for supporting not just Husky, but Jackal and Foxhound and other vehicles in that weight range as well. 
Navistar offers an "APC" variant with rear-doors and seating for 10 men as well.  

When it was acquired, Husky was indeed hailed as a product of OUVS, even though it was procured effectively as UOR. 
It does not exactly meet the requirements outlined above, but it is far from automatically out of the game. Being already part of the Army might prove a big, big advantage.

For sure, Supacat has sent in Millbrook their SPV400 vehicle for trials and evaluation. They already proposed the vehicle for the Light Patrol Protected Vehicle requirement The SPV400 is a 4x4 vehicle carrying a crew of 2 plus 4 dismounts, on an architecure very similar to that of Foxhound, but Supacat has already been working on a 6x6, three axle variant, which could provide a suitable mechanical base for all what MRV(P) asks.

Penmann's suitably named Multi Role Vehicle Protected family of vehicles, in 2 and 3 axle configurations, are also likely to be aiming very seriously to selection for the MOD's requirement.
Foxhound would appear to be out of the competition, if not for other reasons then because of price: with the LPPV costing 270 million pounds per 300 vehicles, even if the amount includes an unspecified amount of spares, it is hard to imagine how variants developed from it could ever fit in the 250.000 pounds unitary cost.

Another defeated Foxhound rival might return for a second try at a MOD Contract, in the form of the Zephyr vehicle, from Creation UK. They have already produced and demonstrated a 12 tons 6x6 vehicle which is more than suited for being kitted out for all needed roles, offering a overhead weapon position and a 4 tons payload. Seating for 12 men can be provided. Protection levels are, in theory, compliant to at least the threshold requirement, and improvements are not to be excluded.

The Zephyr 6x6 is already a solid reality.
 
From outside the UK, a potential bidder is Thales Australia, with the Bushmaster vehicle, which indeed was a very serious contender for the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) requirement that was the earlier incarnation of MRV(P). Bushmaster is a proven vehicle, developed in many variants, used actively on the battlefield by now by several years, and it is not unknown to the UK armed forces, as 24 Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicles were acquired under a UOR requirement for use by the SAS in Iraq.  

Over 800 Bushmaster vehicles have been acquired by Australia alone, in several variants: troop transport, Mortar mobility (the mortar is not fired from inside the vehicle, it has to dismount, but up to 5 men and 50 bombs and the mortar are easily carried), Direct Fire (transports a fire support section with HMG, Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, Javelin AT missiles and/or other weaponry), ambulance, engineer vehicle and Command Post. Some 100 more have been acquired by the Dutch.
An IED variant with rummaging/interrogating mechanical arm has also been prepared, along with 2 logistical variants. A variant specifically kitted for transport of a 4-man Air Defence section with RBS70 missile firing point is also available. An ISTAR variant with mast-mounted sensors was also showcased.

The Bushmaster was very much appreciated by the MOD during OUVS trials: so much so that, effectively, one of the two logistical variants was developed specifically for the UK, by Thales in collaboration with the MOD. This is the Utility Dual Cab variant, which comes with a large cabin with four side-opening passenger doors and seating for 2 crew and up to 6 passengers, while still having at the back a 5 square meters payload bed for 3 tons capacity. This variant would be pretty much perfect as L118 Light Gun Towing vehicle, as it would be able to sit the whole gun crew under armor, tow the gun and carry at least one ammunition pallet. 

Bushmaster Dual Cab
 
The other logistic variant is the Single Cab, which seats a crew of 2 and has a 9.4 square meters flatbed for a payload of over 5 tons which can be fitted with container hoist to take a "two-thirds" ISO container. It can be fitted with a tipper loadbed, or with a crane for self-loading. Thales offers many options.
Changes for accommodating a baseline crew of 3 should be possible.    

The Bushmaster is good at towing, too, so much so that the Australians have procured at least 184 8-tons trailers compatible with the Troop Carrying variant. It can pull and recovery vehicles up to 15.000 kg in weight. 

The command post seats 6 men including driver and optional seat for 7th man. It has additional radio racks, mapboards, space for cryptographic units, a generator and provision for exploitation of external energy source for long-term operations. 

Photos of the various Bushmaster variants, including shots of the insides, are available here.


A well loaded Bushmaster troop carrier with trailer, RWS on the front and GPMG pintle mount at the rear hatch.

The Ambulance variant, in addition to driver, commander and medical attendant positions, accommodate one permanent stretcher position with loading mechanism and four walking wounded patients, seated, each with their own drip, oxygen and regulator.
Alternatively the four walking wounded positions can be field converted in minutes to another stretcher position. Both stretchers are protected and isolated so well that a patient even severely wounded will survive even a mine blast.

The engineering/Pioneer vehicle is essentially a mobile workshop with workbenches, trays, a pulldown awning, and a generator to support the operation of power tools. It carries 5 men, with a 6th seat as optional. One man is the driver. 

The vehicle is a large 4x4 with V hull and good protection levels, with an overall length of 7.18 metres, width of 2.48 metres (within the requirement, albeit barely) and height of 2.65 metres. Track is 2.1 metres and wheelbase is 3.9 metres. A C-130J can airlift a single Bushmaster, while up to eight Bushmasters can be carried by a single C-17. Ground clearance is 430 mm under hull, and the vehicle can ford water depths of 1.2 meters without preparation; the vehicles handles a gradient of up to 60 per cent, an approach angle of 40 degrees and a departure angle of 38 degrees, more than meeting "medium mobility" requirements. The 300 liters fuel tank gives a 800 km autonomy on road. 

To improve blast protection, a 270-litre water tank is mounted internally, beneath the floor for added protection and to lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity. Armour-protected energy absorbent seats provide additional protection against spinal injuries, and multi-point seat belt harnesses are provided
to specific customer requirements. 

The Troop Carrier comes with a large hatch on top, in the front, which can take a Protected or Remote Weapon Station, while in the back two large rectangular hatches are provided for top cover and situational awareness, with pintle mounts available to install further manned machine guns for self defence and fire support. Unladen, the Bushmaster weights between 11.000 and 12.500 kg depending on the variant, again fitting within the indicative requirement.
Turning circle is 17.7 meters, so it goes over the requirement, but perhaps something can be done about it, or the requirement can be relaxed. 

A Bushmaster on operations shows the CROWS RWS on the front hatch and a GPMG pintle mounted on the side, at one of the two rear hatches. Another mount can be installed on the other side.
The Bushmaster ISTAR with mast-mounted sensors.

The Bushmaster is a very interesting vehicle family, with a solution (already developed) for pretty much all needs of a full spectrum military force. Hopefully it will be given proper consideration again as part of MRV(P), as it seems to be a very attractive solution. The cost of the Bushmaster is relatively low for a vehicle of its class at between 500 and 650.000 australian dollars depending on the variant (ambulance seems to be the most expensive), but not quite cheap enough to meet the 250.000 pounds wish of the MOD without some very real difficulty. Still, there's good chances that a Bushmaster offering would be quite advantageous in terms of cost nonetheless, because i have a lot of doubts on the possibility of anyone managing to meet the requirements for just 250.000 pounds apiece, sincerely. 

For sure, the Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) is a very important programme for the army's future, and one to keep surveyed as things progress.   


37 comments:

  1. Gabriele

    It might just be my fallible memory at work but wasn't it the case that when the requirements were drawn up for the OUVS programme, it was divided into two parts: OUVS Heavy and OUVS Light? There were even short lists of candidates drawn up for each category, I seem to remember. I can't recall the names of many of the candidates, though. I hope I am not thinking of another programme altogether!

    P.S. I would hate to see Panther go from service, if a command vehicle of MRV(P) is developed.

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    Replies
    1. I found no mention at all of it being divided in two categories while researching the data for this post, but it's an idea that makes sense: it might have been, if not officially, at least in practice.

      Anyway, we will be talking of this requirement again in the future, i suspect, and if i dig up any more valuable info, i'll share as always.

      By the way, we seem set for the Army announcement coming next Thursday. Speculation is raging all over the press, and it is getting confusing like hell, with anything from 5 to 11 infantry battalions doomed and all the rest.
      Such a terrible mess.

      It's not going to be pretty. Not at all. That's for sure.

      Delete
    2. You are right, i finally found a mention in a press-release of 2009 about Navistar being admitted into OUVS trials, which mentions that OUVS had been broken down in a "large" and a "small" category. I've edited the article to add this fact.

      For the shortlisted candidates, the vehicles i quotein the article were all shortlisted for the Small part of the program.
      The Husky from Navistar was, somehow, considered at once for Small and Large requirement, despite this being clearly a nonsense...

      Delete
  2. I wonder how MRV(P) fits in with FRES (Utility) ?

    Jed

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    Replies
    1. Unless things change dramatically (for example, FRES UV is de-scoped and Bushmaster troop carrier is acquired for the mechanized infantry and other variants are taken over for MRV(P)) they are two very different things.
      FRES UV is intended to be an 8x8 armored fighting vehicle, and is (will be) funded from the "Armour" Budget, with the aim of replacing FV430 and other vehicles, while MRV(P) is a land rover and pinzgauer replacement, and a logistic carrier providing the "last mile" hop that connects the frontline soldier to the MAN SV trucks of the RLC.

      You could find, for example, a MRV(P) pick-up vehicle bring supplies forwards to an Infantry Company on the line of fire.

      FRES Utility is a wheeled APC, with the variants you would expect from it, including anti-tank team carrier and ideally battlefield ambulance and mortar carrier and so along.

      MRV(P) is a support vehicle meant to work close to the frontline.

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    2. And as such, MRV(P) is financed from the "Protected Vehicles" budget voice, which is different from Armour.

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    3. Gabriele

      Thanks for your reply about OUVS being divided into Heavy and Light. I thought I hadn't imagined it!

      On the forthcoming announcements about Army strength, There is an interesting article in the "Sunday Telegraph" today by Sean Rayment , the paper's Defence Correspondent. It is about the resignation of the Army's most senior woman officer in protest at the cuts.

      I think it is probably Rayment re-cycling old (and almost certainly out-of-date) material but he includes one paragraph which states:

      "After 2020, the regular army's 82,000 will be supported by 30,000 territorial troops" (so far so good). The he states "There will be five mult-role brigades with 16 Air Assault Brigade" (he means "together with", I am sure).

      Is this simply an example of lazy, ill-informed journalism or is there possibly something in it, do you think?

      Delete
    4. If you look in my Twitter messages here in the box to the side you'll see that i've been insulting that "journalist" already late last night.
      The bottom half of the article is the copy and past of another Telegraph article that is at least one month old.
      And i mean it is the same, word per word.

      Included the evident, glaring mistake of the 5 Multi Role Brigades, which have absolutely been abandoned.
      There is no possibility of mistakes on this part: General Wall and General Carter themselves announced it, it is not press speculation. The MRBs are no longer, and the Telegraph article is misleading.

      Other and more worrisome news report including mention of the infantry battalions dropping from 36 to 25 have appeared. I can only hope the Telegraph is again wrong.

      Delete
  3. Hi

    As i much as i like the Zephyr and Bushmaster vehicles, i think they have downsides, the Zephyr is unbattleproven and the Bushmaster is limited to 4x4 (although i did hear a while back that they were going to make a 6x6).

    I think the winner could be Eagle V 4x4/6x6 Family, commonality of parts and driver training is a big plus, its battle proven and they have the base vehicles already manufactured designed from existing legacy vehicles.

    According to their site they have a whole range of applications for their vehicles which would suit the British Army's needs. The only downside would be the cost i am they sure would be kinda expensive.

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  4. Gabriele, again a good article. As I began reading I was thinking of a conversation I had on Plymouth Hoe yesterday with a young gunner from 29 Commando. They had a Pinzgaur alongside the gun on display and an armoured Warrior? Landrover with a .50 in a mounting on top and there was an equipment pannier to the rear of the vehicle. From the conversation I gleaned that not only the worn out Pinzguars need replacing as gun tractors but that guns also are quite worn. The indication was that the L/Rover would (perhaps in the short term) be the gun tractors. I believe that prior to the Pinzgaurs the 1 ton L/Rover was the gun tractor. It remains the case, as you have indicated, that both 29 Commando and 7 Para need new gun tractors which will necessarily be able to be underslung from the Merlin HC3's. Pure speculation ...but I wonder if as the guns need a lot of work and tractors need replacing ... will we see a shift to M777 with a suitable gun tractor? Could the gun tractor requirement be solved by a BV??

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    1. Like IanB I think that the Eagle V could be one of the best, if not the best candidates for the job. It is already in service with the German Army and is a seriously good vehicle.

      Another thought strikes me, though, and that is that consideration was given a couple of years ago to submitting the RG35 for the OUVS programme. Its 4x 4 version could serve in a number of the MRV(P) roles and, if money were available later to purchase a number of the 6 x 6 version, then you would have commonality, a mine-protected vehicle(V-shaped hull etc.) and a possible answer to a cheaper wheeled APC than FRES UV. An 8 x 8 FRES UV could supplement it later.

      Like Ron I was on Plymouth Hoe yesterday and spoke to a member of 29 Commando. This one thought that there was nothing wrong with the 105 mm Light and that it could serve another 15 years! I did not see the Pinzgauer (What about those crowds!) Is there a Land Rover man enough for the job of gun tractor? The Wolfhound (used in Afghanistan) would be a good choice).

      Delete
    2. For what i know, the BV206 and even the Viking can tow a L118 no problem, and will no doubt do it quite frequently on operations with the Royal Marines.

      In Afghanistan, the Wolfhound is used as gun towing vehicle, among its roles.

      As to the role of gun towers at home, the RB44 was withdrawn in 2010, never to be missed by anyone, i think, and Pinzgauers are now commonly used. A Land Rover seems not adequate to tow a L118 gun to me, and they are unlikely to be in that much of a better shape than the Pinzgauers, so i think it's the Pinz that will continue to be used for the moment.

      The M777 was on the card as L118 replacement, with acquisition by 2022, but already in PR10 it was decided that the L118 will stay at least until 2030.
      In 2009 the guns were given significant upgrades, mainly to the electronics for aiming, and they remain very effective, even if standardization on the bigger 155 mm ammunition would of course be desirable.

      The guy you spoke to, Ron, might be worried by the spades of the L118 guns. They were to get new ones, made of titanium, in 2009 as part of the upgrade, but the requirement could not be funded.
      Probably it will re-emerge sometime in the next years. It'll still, after all, cost a lot less than going M777, desirable as such a change is.

      As to the RG35, wasn't it for the cost and complexity, yes, it could be a solution.
      Bushmaster and RG35 could be top-of-class solutions, but i can see them being adopted only if they cover the more "fighty" role of FRES UV as well, with the Army renouncing to procuring more performant 8x8 AFVs.

      As to the Zephyr, it has of course not had a war test yet, but then again neither has Foxhound, or FRES SV.
      The trials at Millbrook are very demanding, and if the vehicle passes them, there's no reasons to believe it will do badly on operations.

      As to Bushmaster being limited to 4x4, are we sure that it is a problem? It offers proven survivability and quite impressive off-road mobility as it is.

      Delete
    3. Ron

      Sorry, I was not thnking clearly when I sent the earlier post and mentioned Wolfhound as a possible solution. You quite rightly say that both 29 Commando and 7 Para need gun tractors which will necessarily be able to be underslung from the Merlin HC3's. I realize that you could hardly undersling a Wolfhound! However, I agree with Gabriele when he says "A Land Rover seems not adequate to tow a L118 gun to me, and they are unlikely to be in that much of a better shape than the Pinzgauers." In order to be truly effective, A 105 mm Light Gun tractor need to be a 6 x 6. Originally, I believe, the British Army used the 4 x 4 version of the Pinzgauer but the traction proved inadequate and it was replaced (I think) by a 6 x 6 version. We do not have a 6 x 6 version of the Land Rover, although a version was produced to enter an Australian Army competition some years ago.

      Delete
    4. Are these the tests that gave us the vector,snatch,RB44,springer,panther and husky?

      These vehicles were ok but limited in their use we can't fail again in this program, i know its a big ask that we want a single vehicle type to do all things for all men.

      So we need a vehicle that can be multi use, which is a mine resistant armoured light truck not a converted fighting vehicle and follow the South African example and have every vehicle protected.

      This why i dont think the Bushmaster is not the right base vehicle, although i regard it highly.
      The 6x6 baseline is not for mobility but for weight and space.
      We can fit it with mini DROPS (as per TD blog) and have different modules such as comms and radar, water bowsers, REME workshops and the other countless mundane roles. I know this borders with the MAN 4 tonner but though armoured is still not mine protected.

      so i think people have to remember this program is for a logistics and support vehicle not a fighting vehicle. The RG35 and the Bushmaster will be ideal to equip the light Battalions as protected transport only perhaps some varients to support them

      Delete
    5. This vehicle is for the roles and weight/bulk margins that the Army wants it to cover. Radar vehicles, water tankers and so along are not required at the state. Mini-DROPS and all that might be seductive all you want, but the Army chose the MAN SV trucks for all these roles, and the money for duplicating it all on smaller scale and on mine-protected hulls is simply not there.

      And 6x6 does not automatically mean more weight and space is available. The Bushmaster logistic variants are a demonstration of that.
      And anyway a mini-DROPS system you can get on the back of the Bushmaster. The single cab can take a 2/3 ISO container or an equivalent module. That's about as good as it can get.
      It already starts invading the garden of the MAN 6 ton, indeed.

      Delete
  5. Gaby

    Thanks for your reply ref MRV(P) and FRES(U) but my point is, if MRV(P) provides a wheeled APC, then why do we need 8 x 8 wheeled AFV ?

    Apparently the core of the new model army is going to be the 3 mechanised brigades with 2 each Armoured Infantry battalions on Warrior. As such I don't see us paying for any of the 8 X 8 vehicles that took part in the original FRES Utility trials.

    If we say we go with 3 x 'Motorised' infantry brigades with 3 battalions each as the other deployable elements (leaving us with additional battalions for public duties, Cyprus etc.) then it really comes down to major variables in my mind - budget (cost) and tactical mobility (basically number of wheels / axles). So while an 8 x 8 might be great from a mobility stand point, we all know its the cost that is going to be key - in which case does MRV(P) actually take over many or all of the roles of FRES Utility ?

    If we only need a FRES (SV) regiment for each of the 3 Mechanized Brigades, then the APC / Engineer versions of the GD FRES Scout can go a long way to replace the 800 to 1000 remaining FV432 variants in REME and Engineer units, and in other supporting roles - so do we really need a big 8 x 8 as a replacement for the FV432 series any more ?

    Jed

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  6. @Jed

    "my point is, if MRV(P) provides a wheeled APC, then why do we need 8 x 8 wheeled AFV?"

    And do you think that the RG35 would be an appropriate vehicle to choose for the MRV(P)roles? It is, after all, a hybrid vehicle, with a V-shaped hull and other protection against IEDs and mines. In its 6 x 6 form it can act as a personnel carrier. In the latter role, it would "cover the more "fighty" role that Gabriele has been writing about. I do not work for BAE, by the way!

    @Gabriele

    If the important announcement is to be made on Thursday, will it cover any equipment as well as dealing with structure, do you think? We have been told that any decision about the Army's fighting vehicles will left until next year, when we see what the condition of the vehicles coming back from Afghanistan is. However, I have read at least one report suggesting that the Government/MOD will before long start using some of the £8 billion set aside for contingency spending.

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  7. It would be fascinating to see an insider cost comparison for the various vehicles.

    Husky has been reported as costing £600k each on the UOR, and Bushmaster's $650k AUD is quite alot of GBP at current exchange rates. (BTW I have to chuckle about the large turning circle - plenty of room in Australia, their cars have that problem too!)

    Personally I think there would need to be a pretty decisive cost advantage for it to be something other than Foxhound. Maybe on a first, smallish order FPE needed to amortise alot of R&D - let's see a serious price for an extended production run.

    I hate to think we are going to have 2 different 10 tonne class vehicles MRV(P)and LPPV (Foxhound), to go with our two different 30 tonne class vehicles FRES SV and Warrior.

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    1. Sim'an Dawood

      A very interesting post but as, Gabriele has intimated, the MRV(P) programme is to replace vehicles such as Land Rover and Pinzgauer. Both of these are soft-skinned and ill-protected against IEDs, mines etc. In other words they are all right as run-arounds but inadequate in modern combat conditions.

      As nice as standardization would be to cut down on the proliferation of types, I cannot see the MOD having nearly enough money to replace all the Landies and Pinzes with Foxhound. It would, IMHO, be far too expensive. Not that MRV(P) will be cheap.

      Delete
    2. It's so awesome for me to see comments and some debate starting up on this blog! It's nice to see some discussion.

      @Sim'an Dawood

      Indeed, meeting the 250.000 pounds desired cost is going to be impossible, i fear. I dunno what Zephyr and SPV400 can cost, but the other possible candidates all cost way more than 250.000 pounds.
      Foxhound at the moment is the most expensive of all, at nearly one million apiece. Can the price drop significantly enough, and can the Foxhound be adapted to cover all roles?
      The answer to the second question is likely yes, the answer to the first... well. Had Foxhound won the Australian order for 1300 vehicles, there would have been a little bit more hope. At the state, i fear there's no chance.

      @ Jed

      That is one very interesting point. I've been thinking on exactly the same lines.
      Abandoning FRES UV ambitions and buying more vehicles of less ambitious nature but high performances, such as Bushmaster or RG35, would actually be that bad...?

      I think it would be a totally sensible thing to do, personally. Judging from the cost of suitable 8x8 vehicles on the market, you can safely assume at least 3 Bushmaster can be acquired at the cost of one 8x8.

      In my mind, it is a typical case of 70 or 80% solution: perhaps not ideal, but more than good enough to be sensible.
      The vehicle offers some performance less, but with the same budget you can mechanize more battalions, and give a sense to some of the infantry brigades the army is apparently going to have.

      It is an approach that i would welcome, personally.

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  8. MikeW

    Actually I am a big fan of the RG35 ! I am on my phone so I won't try to mess about with links, but head over to www.thinkdefence.co.uk and search on Jed or RG35 and you should find my article on how it could be a good fit for the army.

    Actually I think a family of vehicles based on Foxhound (7 tonnes in base LPPV) including 6 x 6 version plus a family of vehicles based on RG35 6 x 6 and the 4x4 "Patrol" version would provide us with good capability alongside the heavy tracked Armour and the Viking / Warthog in specialist roles.

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    1. A very good article it was, indeed. I'd gladly put it up on here as well, if you wanted.

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    2. Jed

      Apologies for the late reply. I have been laid out this morning with some kind of virulent bug.

      Actually I remembered the article but have just looked it up again and it is as excellent as I remember it.

      What surprised me was the size of the RG35 6 x 6: 7.4 m (24 ft) long; 2.5 m (8ft 2 in) wide and 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)high. On of the early criticisms of the vehicle was that it could not carry many infantrymen but 15 seems an ample figure to me!

      A "cross-over" vehicle was the the term I was looking for (better than "hybrid"). It is dual-purpose vehicle of the best kind and could replace both a Saxon-type and a Ridgback-type. I am convinced it would be a good choice for the British Army.

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    3. Gabriele

      I have been loooking at an entry in Wikipedia about the future structure of the British Army. At the RUSI Land Warfare Conference in June 2012 the Army's Chief of the General Staff (Sir Peter Wall)set out a significantly different army structure from that proposed in the SDSR.

      He said that the armoured division will be: "One division comprising three armoured infantry brigades, each with one armoured regiment and two armoured infantry battalions. These brigades will have heavy and medium vehicles; including upgraded Challenger II tanks, Warrior and Scout armoured vehicles. Each of these armoured infantry brigades will comprise:

      * one armoured regiment equipped with 56 Challenger 2 Main battle tanks,
      * one medium reconnaissance regiment equipped with General Dynamics' Scout Specialist Vehicle,
      * two armoured infantry battalions equipped with the upgraded Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle,
      * one protected mobility regiment equipped with armoured utility vehicles.

      The first three are fairly straightforward. It is the last one I cannot fully comprehend. Is the "protected mobility regiment" likely to be equipped with Mastiff, Ridgback type vehicles or Foxhound type vehicles or MRV(P) type vehicles? Or something else- perhaps Bulldog? What is your take on that?
      Good news on the number of tanks in each regiment (56).

      Secondly, did you see the article in "The "Telegraph" today on the resignation of quite a few of our Army generals or high-ranking officers in protest at the Defence cuts? Has all this come too late, though?

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    4. It's an interesting entry. My feeling is that it draws heavily from the Jane's article, which of course cannot be freely accessed.
      I say this because i saw and commented General Wall's main speech at RUSI, and he did not at all expand to such detail. I provided a post and embedded the video, and he never even mentioned the protected mobility regiment in the Armored brigades, let alone the (weird) figure of 56 tanks ( i know the british army has had Type 57 and Type 58 tank regiments, but 56 sounds new...).

      Assuming the Jane's/ wikipedia entry are correct (Jane's might have listened to the crucially important General Carter's speech, which i was unable to access as RUSI did not share) , i guess that "Protected Mobility" suggests something like Mastiff, yes, more than Bulldog. However, 3 Battalions mounted on Bulldog are in theory already available, so i guess that both options are in theory valid, and each has its merits.

      I'm more impressed by the mention of "shared" supporting elements available to 3rd Commando and 16AA. So far i had assumed/hoped that the supporting elements of the reaction forces would be spared the chop, but if Wiki is right, this is very clearly not the case and things just got even worse.

      A little bit reassuring is to hear that the Infantry brigades will at least get Reconnaissance Squadrons on wheeled vehicles, but i'll wait for some more detail before expressing any real relief, as i still don't like how it sounds. Plenty of potential for half-assing it.

      Also, i don't like the "between 2 and 4" infantry battalions mention.
      4 is a good number, 2 is not. A brigade of the British Army is not a US BCT, not to mention that BCTs are going up to 3 battalions each anyway. A british brigade on 2 battalions makes no sense.
      Also, does not sound good in regard to the number of battalions that will be lost: with just 9 battalions in the Armored brigades, eventually 4 in 16AA and, let's assume, 1st RIFLES in 3rd Commando, that's just 14 regular battalions.
      I fear the Telegraph might well be right: regular battalions might be about to drop all the way to 25, if not less.

      There's 14 TA battalions, after all, and assuming 11 more regular battalions, each of the 7 infantry brigades should have 3.57 battalions.

      I also take it that no brigade is going to have organic artillery or engineers at all, though.
      Possibly not even organic Signals squadron.

      Which disgusts me more than a fair bit.

      As to the officers quitting, i dunno. Saw the article, also saw the answer of the MOD, saying that 2 of the guys actually haven't quitted and the others aren't doing it because of the cuts... frankly, it means little anyway. Too little, too late.

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  9. Gaby

    I agree, "shared support" for the high readiness forces would not be a good move ! If things follow General Jacksons desire for smaller brigades without organic CS / CSS then we could end up with 25 infantry battalions providing:

    6 on Warrior in those 3 armoured brigades / 1 Div
    9 in 3 Mechanised Infantry battalions / 3 Brigades - with each of these brigades being assigned a 4th TA battalion ?
    3 Para battalions in 16AA

    Subtotal 18

    3 Public Duties
    2 Cyprus
    1 "Demonstration"
    1 Brunei

    Total 25

    This would require additional TA infantry to be available for "homeland security" missions.

    With 3 Armoured Brigades, 3 Mechanized Brigades and 2 "Intervenion" Brigades - 8 deployable brigades from the 120,000 FF2020 structure ?

    Jed

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    1. It seems that, at least until FRES UV is eventually resurrected, there will only be 3 infantry battalions "on protected vehicles" (i'm guessing either Bulldog or Mastiff brought into core), and these will be the third infantry unit in the 3 armored brigades.

      The 7 infantry brigades scare me. I fear that they will be nothing but aborts, sincerely. I hope to be proven wrong, but i'm quite horrified by how things seem to be going.

      As to the reaction brigade's support.
      I can accept shared support for the reaction brigades only if the regiments that stay are beefy.
      They must be able to provide, on rotation, suitable artillery, engineer and logistics support to the battlegroups at high readiness, so 1 Commando and 1 Airborne battlegroups.
      At once.
      All the time.
      Anything else is a bluff that will never trick anyone, not an army.

      And still sharing would make no sense, because none of the two reaction brigades would have the sufficient support elements for deploying in full.
      Reaction brigades incapable to react. Well, that sure would be something...

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    2. Jed

      "I agree, "shared support" for the high readiness forces would not be a good move!

      Gabriele

      "I'm more impressed by the mention of "shared" supporting elements available to 3rd Commando and 16AA. So far I had assumed/hoped that the supporting elements of the reaction forces would be spared the chop, but if Wiki is right, this is very clearly not the case and things just got even worse."

      I agree wholeheartedly with both of you. Shared support for the rapid reaction brigades would be appalling. It would mean moving Artillery, Engineer and Signals support very rapidly between the two and giving it to the formation in a state of "high readiness". It would also mean that 16 AA Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade would cease to be self-contained, cohesive formations. I am beginning to wonder whether the Wikipedia report is accurate. After all, the RM Commandos are scheduled to lose only four to five hundred men out of seven thousand (approx.) That means that most of the support units will be staying, doesn't it?

      I agree that the figure of 56 tanks does sound very odd.

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    3. Not necessarily, since 29 Commando Artillery and the Commando Logistics Regiments are both Army formations, along with the 24 Engineer Regiment.
      It is down to common sense of the Army's chiefs...

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  10. Gaby

    While we dont know what we dont know, and wont know it until the tell us.....

    There seems to be a move towards smaller brigades, so I don't think the Armoured Infantry Brigades would get a 3rd infantry battalion - just Tank x 1, Armoured Recce (FRES) x 1 and Infantry (Warrior) x 2, maybe with an 18 Gun "regiment" of AS90 in close support.

    Personally I would just bin 16AA, we don't have the helos to give it critical mass. A fantasy unit called "5 (Army) Commando Brigade" consisting of all 3 Para Regt battalions, 7 RHA, Para-engineers etc could still support the requirement for an parachute capable battlegroup, the whole brigade could be a de-facto SF support unit, and they could take existing vehicles that can be underslung by Chinook, including Supacat MTP, LandRover Wolf WMIK, and maybe even the re-manufactured Vikings. In return give 3 CDO Brigade the heavier Warthog, as it can swim ashore without having to be lifted by helo.... ??? Just a thought :-)

    Jed

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    1. There seem to be a move towards smaller everything, and i'm growing seriously impatient for the announcement, as trying to piece together what's happening via leaks is painting a picture which is depressing to say the very, very least.
      I hope the official announcement will at least show some common sense in the reasoning and plan. Nice it won't be, obviously, but at least i hope it will make some kind of sense.

      As for the third infantry maneuver formation, i personally hope to have it.
      For now, evidence of its presence come only from leaks, and from the Wiki entry, which quotes from a large Jane's article which i'd really, really love to read.

      My gut feeling is that the Jane's article is about General Nick Carter's speech at the RUSI conference. General Wall was pretty damn generic in his own speech, but he said that Carter, who spoke after him, would go on the details.
      RUSI is not making video or transcripts of Carter's speech available, though.
      It would have been immensely helpful to hear his message.

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    2. @Gabriele

      "Not necessarily, since 29 Commando Artillery and the Commando Logistics Regiments are both Army formations, along with the 24 Engineer Regiment.
      It is down to common sense of the Army's chiefs..."

      I'm sorry Gabriele, I don't fully understand. To what part of my post were you replying when you say "Not necessarily"? To the suggestion that resources would have to alternate between 16 AA Bde and 3 Commando Bde? or to the point that most of the support units would appear to be staying in 3 Commnando? And what exactly would be down to the common sense of the Army chiefs?

      I too have been trying to find General Carter's speech but can't. It's very frustrating. In one account I read his speech was made to a private audience at RUSI. Surely these things should be out in the open?

      @Jed

      Agree with you on most things but cannot accept the idea that we don't have the helos to give 16 AA Bde critical mass. It has 2 regiments of Apache attack helicopters, a regiment of Lynx (24?) and would normally expect to operate with 18 Chinook and 18 Puma from JHC. That is so many that I was going to advocate that, if we were to have Multi-Role Brigades, we should share some of those 16 AA helicopters out among the MRBs!

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    3. Sorry, i've not been clear. I was replying to this passage:

      "After all, the RM Commandos are scheduled to lose only four to five hundred men out of seven thousand (approx.) That means that most of the support units will be staying, doesn't it?"

      Unfortunately, the reduction to the Royal Marines numbers made by the Navy command is not connected to the fate of 29 Commando Royal Artillery, Commando Logistics Regiment and 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, since those are mainly Army formations, and might well get the chop if the Army gets its way.
      Which is my fear, in fact.

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  11. Gabriele

    OK, clear enough now. I read about the reductions (4 to 5 hundred) in "Globe and Laurel", the official journal/magazine of the Royal Marines, and it seems unlikely that they would mention such a figure if 3 Coomando Brigade were to lose its supporting elements too but I see your point about what belongs to the Army nd what belongs to the Navy. Let's hope fervently that it does not happen1

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  12. Gabriele - apologies in taking this somewhat off topic

    MikeW in response to helo numbers - that lot looks impressive on paper, but currently 16 AA has 4 x Infantry battalions. That number if helos IF it can actually be made available by JHC cannot lift anywhere near enough infantry, logistics and supporting logistics for the Apaches to indulge in "manouvre" warfare. The Apache in this context is a "self licking lolipop" which will soak up lift capability in setting up and support FOB's and FARP's.

    Even if we drop down to 3 infantry battalions as per my suggestion, and can muster all those aviation assets - how does this "rapid response" brigade get them all to a distant area of operations ? We simply don't have the sea lift (how much for a Maersk S class AFSB conversion ?) or the airlift, so they would have to self deploy ?

    If we had gone down the 5 MRB's route, it would have been sensible, and I think Gaby covered it in a previous post, to have "Combat Aviation Battalions".

    Having a centre of excellence in JHC makes sense, current structure and roles of 16 AAB just don't make sense to me.

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    1. I'll just add that an airborne battalion can be moved in 20 Chinook-lifts equivalents.
      Now, Chinooks are going up to 60, but it is obvious that only a fraction of them would actually be available.

      Puma is also a bit of a question mark. With 22 HC2 helos in total in the active force, 24 all in all, they are highly unlikely to be able to deploy many airframes to operations.
      The assumption of 18 Pumas for 16AA is old, and dates to days in which there were perhaps 40 or more HC1...!
      And even then, i dunno how realistic it was.

      The Uk has this defect: nothing ever seems to be finished: 3rd Commando brigade, which is in my opinion the most complete brigade and operationally valid brigade the UK has, still has its own weak spot in 24 Royal Engineers regiment, which was never given the 2nd Regular Squadron planned.

      Jed asks a good question when he wonders how the rapid reaction 16AA will ever deploy.
      With two Apaches at most fitting into a C17, you can tell that it is going to be complex.

      The Merlin HC3 detachment self-deployed to Iraq back in the days, a miles marathon which is quite impressive to this day, but you've got to wonder how whole squadrons and an Apache regiment would fare asked to deploy largely in the same fashion...

      And yes, i wanted all brigades to have a single air maneuver battalion attached, with integral air assets. To me it looks both a more useful and more feasible way to employ 16AA.

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    2. Jed,

      "That number if helos IF it can actually be made available by JHC cannot lift anywhere near enough infantry, logistics and supporting logistics for the Apaches to indulge in "manouvre" warfare. The Apache in this context is a "self licking lolipop" which will soak up lift capability in setting up and support FOB's and FARP's."

      Yes, I begin to understand your argument now. As Gabriele says near the end of his added comments:

      "And yes, I wanted all brigades to have a single air maneuver battalion attached, with integral air assets. To me it looks both a more useful and more feasible way to employ 16AA."

      And I think now that both of you are probably right.

      Thanks a lot.

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